From the office of Sen. Barry Glassman:
New Draft Nutrient Management Guidelines have been circulating from the Maryland Department of the Agriculture over the past few weeks. Rural communities throughout Maryland have been surprised by proposals to limit septic systems and lately with new higher tolls in their suburban and rural communities. The latest bad news is coming from the Maryland Department of Agriculture, who has proposed several new limitations on the way Maryland farmers will be to operate their livestock and dairy operations.
The most onerous changes include the mandate that no nutrients shall be applied mechanically or deposited by livestock within a ten foot setback for pastures and hayfields; meaning that farmers would have to literally fence off all of their streamside areas from livestock or the spreading of nutrients. Broadcast fertilizer of any kind will require a 35 foot setback from the edge of surface water and the buffers will have to be planted with vegetation and no longer grazed for livestock. During the spring season, from March until September, manures and other organic nutrient sources will have to be injected or worked into the soil within 72 hours, and farm operations with livestock manure will be required to make plans for storage to eliminate the need for winter application before July 1, 2016.
If the Maryland Department of Agriculture approves and enforces these regulations, Maryland’s livestock farmers, who are already stressed from the increased costs of fuel, seed, fertilizer, and food, will likely not be able to continue in business. This aspect of Maryland’s pollution diet will end up starving our farming community. These dramatic changes in Maryland farming practices will add to already 50% loss of dairy farms in Maryland since 1989, and will likely force Maryland farmers to look at Pennsylvania and Virginia for agricultural land to continue their way of life.
The quiet introduction of these draft regulations will certainly have a dramatic impact on Maryland’s great agricultural history. Our horse farmers, dairy operations and livestock producers will be forced to make the ultimate decision of whether to continue their farming traditions in the State of Maryland. It appears that Maryland is willing to sacrifice this great agricultural history, as it has with other businesses in the State. This is a perfect example of the great and increasing disconnect between Maryland’s rich rural history and its desire to become the leader in various progressive and liberal policies.
Senator Glassman will be personally working with his House counterpart, Delegate Kathy Afzali from Frederick County, to prepare for legislative action during our Special Session in the Fall, or during the annual legislation session in January.
Senator Glassman is beginning his second term in the Maryland Senate and served previously as a Harford County Councilman and Maryland State Delegate. If you would like additional information, please feel free to contact Senator Glassman at (410)440-9267.